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3rd largest hydropower plant starts operation
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Longtan hydropower project, China's third largest, went into operation on Wednesday after a seven-month trial generation proved successful.

The project's three generators, which were put into a test run in May, July and October, respectively, were announced to enter the formal generating stage on Wednesday. It was 14 months ahead of schedule, said Dai Bo, general manager of Longtan Hydropower Development Co. of China Datang Corporation (CDT).

In recent months, the water level had remained at 342 meters in the reservoir, close to the designated 400 meters when the other six generators start operation as of 2009.

The project was situated on the Hongshui River, a major tributary of the Pearl River in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It was China's third largest hydropower plant after the Three Gorges Project on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, and Xiluodu hydropower project on the Jinsha River, a Yangtze tributary.

It was a key component of the government's campaign to develop the western regions and to bring electricity to the economically-developed but energy-demanding eastern and coastal areas.

An investment of 30 billion yuan (US$3.75 billion) from CDT was used to build the 216.5-meter-high dam, a ship lock and an underground generating house with nine turbo-generators with a combined installed capacity of 6.3 million kilowatts.

Construction began in July 2001 and was scheduled to finish at the end of 2009. It would be capable of generating 18.7 billion kw/hours of electricity annually once completed.

Half the power from the project would be transmitted to Guangdong Province and to the east of Guangxi.

The project would also help in flood control and improving conditions for shipping. It would also benefit in combating a salt tide that had been plaguing water usage in cities on the Pearl River Delta.

More than 80,000 residents in 10 counties of Guizhou Province and Guangxi would be resettled to make way for the project. So far, 34,207 residents had been relocated to higher ground.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2007)

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